jon hassell | atmospherics | vernal equinox
Jon Hassell atmospherics : stories in words and pictures

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vernal equinox

 I | II

The raga "Tilang" is all I played for 2 or 3 years, trying to get those vocal curves first on the mouthpiece then sticking it into the horn while blowing so I could trick myself into singing with my lips and try not to lapse into bugle mode. I thought about the sound of the conch shell that was blown every night in the temple in Dehra Dun to call the neighborhood kids to the evening ceremony called Arti and about how it was like the sound of The First Trumpet and I eventually started to hold the horn differently so I could get that feel. In Malibu I was playing over electronic drones (tuned to Pran Nath's fundamental tone, Sa = 256Hz) that played the tambura role and the invitation to Toronto was a chance to workshop some of the music ideas which were beginning to form and to take advantage of the University studio. While I was there, my beloved old dog, lil' pup, died nearing 20 and while I was on mushrooms during the recording I remember so clearly that I was talking to him and saying goodbye during the piece called 'Blues Nile' which I named for him because he looked so much like an Egyptian dog. And because I was so blue. I left LA behind and moved back to New York—sleeping on a friends floor for a while and feeling pretty lost in the middle of winter. I had met Philippa DeMenil (benefactress of the DIA Art Foundation) while playing with La Monte Young's Theater of Eternal Dreams before, and she helped me to finish the record with overdubs by Nana Vasconçelos who Don Cherry had pointed me to one day down in Soho, as a great new Brazilian percussionist who had just come into town from Paris. I hadn't thought of it before but I suppose a line could be drawn from the voodoo experience in Bogota to the track called 'Hex'. The last track, 'Caracas Night, September 11, 1975' is me playing alone up on the hill in Altamira with distant barking from Perrasita, a wandering dog I had taken in and, heartbreakingly, had to leave behind.